Shon Matthews has been named the 2019 Star of Life for LifeNet EMS in Texarkana, Texas.
After nearly two decades working at Alumax Mill Products, as both union president and a finishing operator, a family accident inspired Shon to change career paths.
“In 2003, I was out of town and got the horrible phone call that my son had been in a serious ATV accident. He was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where he made a good recovery. Listening to my wife and brother-in-law talk about what happened, I thought communities needed more people to get involved to save lives,” Shon said.
Within a few months of the accident, Shon joined the Booker Bridge Volunteer Fire Department in Miller County Arkansas as a first responder. Shortly thereafter, he also became part of the first responder team at the mill where he was working full-time. Through the training he took at the mill, Shon met a paramedic working at LifeNet EMS who told Shon he was a “natural” fit for EMS and encouraged him to consider a career as a paramedic.
Shon decided to start EMT school and began working for LifeNet EMS part-time in 2007 as an EMT while continuing his education to become a paramedic.
“I really felt like I was called into EMS. I quit my job and took a substantial pay cut to come to work as a paramedic,” he said.
In March of 2009, Shon joined LifeNet full-time, and a few years later, he was promoted to a field training officer role. He quickly proved himself as an asset in that position, and in May of 2013, when one of the company’s Operations Managers (OMs) was deployed overseas, Shon was selected to temporarily fill that role for nine months.
When it was time for Shon to return to his role working as a ground crew member, the LifeNet Air medical helicopter in Texarkana had a flight medic who was going out on short-term disability. Shon was asked to fill-in as a flight medic during that time period.
Shortly after his time as a fill-in flight medic was over, Shon was asked to help his family start a business. So he stepped away from a full-time career in EMS. During that time period, Shon still worked call-in-relief for LifeNet as a paramedic for both the ground and air operations.
“I worked in that business for about six months, and I realized my heart wasn’t there,” Shon said, as he described why he made the decision to leave the family business and come back to EMS full-time.
In June of 2016, Shon was offered a full-time role as a flight medic on LifeNet Air. It was a job he had dreamed about having since starting in EMS. Less than a year later, a full-time opening came up for an Operations Manager (OM) role.
“I spent a few weeks doing some soul searching before applying because it was always my dream to be a flight medic,” he said. “But I’ve also always been taught that if you want to make a positive change, you have to try to get in the roles to make a positive change, so I applied for the OM position.”
Since August 2016, Shon has been a full-time OM for LifeNet EMS in Texarkana, while also continuing to work as needed on the LifeNet Air medical helicopter. It is his dedication and commitment to doing whatever the company needs to take care of the patients and to serve the community that inspired his colleagues to nominate him for the Star of Life award.
“Shon will help the crew members, and he has the respect of the field crews and the best interest of LifeNet at all times. He displays good morals and ethics and tries to bring out the very best in people. You will always find Shon trying new things to make LifeNet a better place, and he is always studying to remain sharp in his knowledge and skills,” wrote one colleague in a nomination letter.
When Shon is not working full-time in one of the aforementioned roles, he is working to both educate the community on safety and to also build the next generation of EMS professionals.
In addition to teaching ground schools to local first responders for LifeNet Air, Shon also teaches BCLS, ACLS, ITLS, PEPP, and pediatric first aid. Additionally, he is an instructor in the EMT and Paramedic program at Texarkana College.
“I had the opportunity to spend half a day working with Shon at a landing zone class. Not only was he fantastic in presenting the course material, he was also amazing at relating with the firefighters who attended the class. I witnessed him make great relationships with several of them by focusing the conversation on how our company could best serve them while making sure they knew how important their role as a first responder was to LifeNet Air,” wrote a college in a nomination letter.
Amongst his peers, and across the community, Shon is known for going above and beyond to serve others.
“When Shon is not filling the role of Operations Manager, he often fills in the role of flight medic. Before I started working at LifeNet, I had the opportunity to meet Shon in this capacity when he invited my daughter to tour the helicopter. He saw her standing at the fence outside the hangar watching airplanes, and he came out to ask if she wanted to go see a helicopter up close. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. That sentence to me sums up Shon Matthews. He doesn’t have to do a lot of things, but he does,” read another nomination letter.
After receiving the nominations, Shon was then selected for the award by former Stars of Life and the management team at LifeNet.
“It’s truly an honor to be well thought of by my peers, especially in the OM capacity because many of them work for me,” Shon said as he described the moment he was told he was LifeNet’s 2019 Star of Life in the Texarkana Division.
When he is not busy fulfilling his EMS duties, you will find Shon spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Nicole and Derek. Shon is an active member of Fairland Holiness Church, where he serves as a Sunday School teacher.